Man died after bee sting reaction

A beekeeper died from anaphylactic shock after being stung as he tended his hive in a Norfolk village.

A beekeeper died from anaphylactic shock after being stung as he tended his hive in a Norfolk village.

Michael McClean, aged 65, had been stung several times in the past and carried an EpiPen - a device to inject adrenaline - after suffering an allergic reaction to a bee sting in 2005, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mr McClean's widow Christine said that her husband suffered more bee stings after this and, apart from localised swelling, had not suffered any form of allergic reaction until his death on May 5 this year.

Mrs McClean, 68, told the inquest in Norwich that she and her husband were tending the couple's hives on land at Lessingham, near Stalham, when Mr McClean was stung on the throat.

She said that her husband, who was wearing a protective suit, was lifting two boxes from the hive to inspect it when he was stung.

Mrs McClean said she reacted in disbelief when her husband, who was suffering from a heart condition, told her what had happened.

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She said: "I told him 'You can't have been stung. You have got your suit on.' He said 'It was inside the suit. I have killed it. Poor bee'."

Mrs McClean said she fetched her husband's EpiPen from the car and he injected it twice into his thigh.

She then helped him into the car, but as she started to drive the retired electrician began suffering fits and lost consciousness.

Mrs McClean managed to get to a nearby farmyard where two people ran from a cottage and tried to help.

An emergency first response team was on the scene within about seven minutes, but it took paramedics travelling from Caister on a bank holiday weekend about a further 20 minutes to arrive, the inquest heard.

Mrs McClean said that despite working on her husband for some time, paramedics were unable to save him.

At the inquest Mrs McClean urged other beekeepers to be vigilant and said that the couple, from Ingham, would have given up beekeeping if they had known of the risk to her husband.

She said: "I am sure that a lot of people will criticise us for continuing to keep bees because my husband had an allergic reaction.

"But we didn't know the fine medical distinction between anaphylactic shock and an allergic reaction.

"My husband had been stung after the allergic reaction quite a few times, but had no reaction at all. Doctors said to make sure that he carried an EpiPen and that it might not happen again.

"We asked other beekeepers whether they had any reactions. Some said they had had one 10 years ago and had been fine since.

"After my husband had the first allergic reaction we considered giving up, but thought 'let's keep going'. We both enjoyed it very much. If we had known we would never have continued to keep bees."

Norwich and central Norfolk coroner, William Armstrong, recorded that Mr McClean died as a result of anaphylactic shock to a bee sting.

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